The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the work and daily lives of us all.
For the Waitematā Local Board it means more work for both board members and board staff but most of this work will now be done from our homes. I can still be contacted readily at 021 534 546 or email@example.com and the staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are already having board Members and staff joining meetings by skype and we are exploring options on how public can safely input into our board meetings. Our April board meeting will be moved to the Town Hall Reception Room with a larger meeting room to contain all interested members of the public but at a socially safe distance from each other. We will concentrate on urgent and vital business so some issues may need to be delayed until the COVID-19 crisis is over. Please be kind, understanding and patient with us as we now all need to be with each other.
The Waitematā Local Board members continue to receive messages from members of the public concerned about the sudden closure of the Leys Institute Library and Gymnasium. I and the other board members are strongly opposed to demolishing or selling the buildings. The board made an urgent decision just before Christmas to lease premises for the library at 14 Jervois Road for three years. It was planned to open the Little Leys Library on 31 March, however following the Mayors announcement on the temporary closure of libraries, pools, recreation centres and major venues in response to COVID-19, the Little Leys Library will now open when all other libraries re-open. The Council is ensuring the old buildings are cleaned and maintained, graffiti is removed, clear signage is provided about the situation and where the alternative services are provided. We very much hope that these buildings can be restored to their former glory and to public use.
We have been engaging actively with the community about our proposed Budget and seeking early input into the drafting of the Local Board Plan. We talked to lots of people at our successful Myers Park Medley event, at Uptown Sounds in Basque Park, a youth hui called Seeding Our Future, the Central City Network, our Beating the Bounds event where board members walked and chatted with residents the whole length of the board area, and a Climate Change workshop. We held formal hearings on the Annual Budget with community groups on 3 March. As well as progressing the Ponsonby Park Project, we are keen to support community action on the climate heating emergency, combatting homelessness, parks development, cleaning up streams and environmental enhancement and contribute to mitigating the effects of COVID-19.
Our March Waitematā Local Board meeting considered a report on the proposed Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project. Some members wanted to make sure that the method and timing of removing the remaining century old pines was the right one, so the board sought more information about that. We are agreed that we want to restore the area to be a healthy native bush park and with restored public access and use.
The Board meeting endorsed Council’s proposed Auckland Climate Action framework. We added support for local composting systems, requested priority for water management and retention issues, and making the scheduling and retention of notable trees easier. We strongly supported Western Springs College’s application for funding to build an additional indoor sports court for public use. After I and our transport spokesperson Graeme Gunthorp took part in a public meeting about traffic issues in Collingwood Street and Freeman’s Bay, we urged Auckland Transport to act on these issues as soon as possible. We made a submission on Council’s CCO review urging that most of the roles of the CCOs be returned to Auckland Council and Local Boards and to improve transparency and democratic accountability. (RICHARD NORTHEY)
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